Your firm's marketing efforts are your opportunity to show potential clients what you have to offer — and why you are the best choice. You need to make sure your marketing is connecting with your target audience on more than a surface level.
You know how it feels to have an experience with a brand or its marketing that is truly meaningful. The experience is gratifying; you may feel seen or heard in a way that you have not by other businesses.
You want your clients to feel seen, recognized and important in a way that allows them to feel a rapport with your firm. One of the ways to accomplish this connection is through great story telling.
The common components of marketing are formulaic and consist of advertising, communications, public relations and sales strategies. Each component is systematically built on the foundation of the cost-benefit analysis. Firms often use this analysis to determine which approach is best for each marketing component in order to gain the most benefit at the lowest cost.
The lure of the marketing blueprint can be strong, especially in the case of online marketing. Firms have been told for years that content is king, and in this environment, it is easy to place the emphasis on quantity in a push to produce as much content as possible. When you focus on numbers, however, quality inevitably suffers. Writing loses its purpose — and humanity.
In the current era of the internet and social media, consumers want to feel real connections to businesses. It is important in modern marketing to talk to potential customers about topics that go beyond the practice area. Storytelling is a great way to accomplish this.
Correcting the record
Many times, people outside the legal industry have preconceived ideas about attorneys that in no way match the attorneys' actual personalities. People who have not worked with lawyers, or encountered them in their lives, have only second-hand accounts and rumors to shape the perception they have about law firms. Unfortunately, the negative anecdotes are often those that get the most traction. Storytelling can help show the human side — and real personality — behind the firm.
Storytelling is a great way to brand and market your law firm. The application of the law is similar, if not identical, in many cases. Your law firm stands out from the rest because of people who work there and clients you represent. The story of who you are, what you offer and how you help your clients is a more effective way to engage potential clients than with facts and figures.
A good story can allow clients to see themselves within a scenario. For example, Amazon Prime's “Lion Dog” commercial, which depicts a family bringing their baby, who hates dogs but loves lions, and their Golden Retriever together by ordering a lion's mane costume for their dog, was still producing comments on Twitter long after its release. Within a year, the commercial had aired over 10,000 times nationally and been seen over 2 million times on YouTube. The success of the commercial was of course not based on people's natural love for Amazon, but on its ability to tell a story that viewers could relate to viscerally. Amazon successfully used storytelling to sell a service, fast delivery, which on its face is technical, not emotional.
Lawyers are natural storytellers
Law schools train law students to present the facts of a case through creative and compelling stories. From the opening and closing arguments of litigation to closed-door contract negotiations, attorneys must tell the story their audience wants to hear. They must be able to put themselves in the shoes of the jury, or of their negotiating partners, to be able to speak authentically and convincingly. Storytelling is an art; therefore, your legal marketing must craft stories that feel personal to each person that hears them.
While storytelling marketing is an art, there is also a science to it. The story needs to have a structure that ensures that the information about your firm is not lost in the telling. Create an outline to keep your story on track. You want to draw the listener in with genuine emotion and introduce your firm in a natural and casually way.
Ask yourself whether there is an aspect of your value proposition that can be turned into a story. What is the benefit clients will see from working with you, and how can that benefit be expressed creatively? Also, think about whether there is an aspect of your personality or past experience that is particularly relevant to clients. For example, if you are an estate planning lawyer who has experience caring for an aging or disabled parent, do not be afraid to share that experience. Show yourself in your client's shoes, and they will be able to see themselves in your story.
When you know your industry and potential clients, you can create stories that cater to them. You must research your audience and find out what types of stories might appeal to them. Try to focus on the positive. Clients want to feel comfortable contacting you, not frightened by the idea of what might come next. Personal injury law firms may market their stories to appeal to the relief clients will feel knowing their bills will be paid and their families will be taken care of.
One size fits all is not the approach to take with storytelling marketing. Much like handling a case, you must look at the facts in each situation. What may work for the target audience in one area of the law may appear offensive or irrelevant to that of another.
In addition to presenting stories connected to the legal services your law firm provides, you must market the human elements of your law firm – the attorneys and staff. Often people choose to hire a firm because they connect with the people who work there. Stories from a lawyer about why they practice law or what motivates them may make a potential client feel like they would be more than just a paycheck.
Let storytelling marketing elevate your law firm by creating a real connection with your clients. When people feel this connection, they are able have the sense of trust that makes your firm the right choice.